March 27, 2023

Nova Lenda captures Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun on Japan Road to Kentucky Derby

Three days after his Admire Mars capped a perfect season in the Asahi Hai Futurity (G1) on turf, the Sunday Silence stallion Daiwa Major celebrated a major juvenile double as another son, Nova Lenda, landed Wednesday’s Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun on the dirt. The Kawasaki feature serves as a scoring race on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, and the winner’s haul of 20 points propelled Nova Lenda to the top of the leaderboard.

Trained by Takashi Saito and ridden by Yuichi Kitamura, Nova Lenda was cutting back in trip from a pair of daylight victories at about 1 1/8 miles. The U. Carrot Farm runner had a miscue in his unveiling at Hanshin September 29, when veering out into the first turn and being pulled up, but went on to win his next two. His October 13 maiden score at Niigata and November 17 allowance coup at Kyoto both came in stalk-and-pounce fashion, and the same style worked in his stakes debut.

Nova Lenda, the fifth choice at odds of 5-1, broke from post 12 and attended Ignacio d’Oro in the early stages. Stalking next were a couple of hitherto unbeatens, 2-1 favorite and U. Carrot comrade Gal Vihara, along with Make Happy, heroine of the first scoring race in the Cattleya Sho.

Rounding the far turn, Nova Lenda found himself in front as Ignacio d’Oro commenced a retreat. Gal Vihara launched a good-looking bid, but Nova Lenda had not yet begun to fight. As they squared off down the lane, Nova Lenda found extra gears to pull clear of the favorite.

It wasn’t quite over yet, however. Derma Louvre, the 5-2 second choice, burst from the pack and finished fastest of all. The wire came in the nick of time for Nova Lenda, who held on by a head in a final time of 1:42.8 for the muddy metric mile.

Make Happy may not have relished the track, for she was uncharacteristically spinning her wheels on the backstretch and trudged in a one-paced fourth. She still ranks second on the Japan Road leaderboard with 12 points (10 from the Cattleya Sho and 2 here).

Runner-up Derma Louvre took home 8 points and Gal Vihara earned 4 points for third. The Kawasaki place-getters sit third and fourth, respectively, on the Japan Road points list.

Nova Lenda was bred by Northern Farm in Japan. Produced by the winning Kurofune mare Mon Petit Coeur, the dark bay is a full brother to Blanche Coeur, a multiple stakes-placed performer on the Japanese dirt.

The Japan Road continues with the February 17 Hyacinth at Tokyo, and the newly expanded series now culminates in the March 31 Fukuryu at Nakayama.